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The Gardener's Son by Cormac McCarthy
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The Gardener's Son

by Cormac McCarthy

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Referencing footnotes in a 1928 biography of an industrialist of the pre-Civil War South, the Forward was non-specific, but other sources suggest this is possibly a true story - an 1876 town legend in Graniteville, South Carolina. William Gregg is the owner of the town’s mill; Patrick McEvoy is his family’s gardener. Robert McEvoy, 17-year-old son, had an accident at the mill, assumed to be due to a mistake of James Gregg, son of William; Robert’s leg was amputated. Enraged and hurt, Robert soon ran away returning two years later upon news of his mother’s pending death. His pent-up anger in seeing the capitalistic James who had abandoned his father’s garden and greenhouse, having his father work as a laborer in the mill, making indecent offer to his sister -- shot and killed James. Both households are without a male heir when Robert is hung.

This is my first time reading a screenplay, which is also Cormac McCarthy’s first. Just like his now famous works of “The Road” and “No Country for Old Man”, this taut piece of writing presents an artistic control and reserve. As soon as the story began, I can feel the tension in the words. This is a haunting tale of powerlessness and rage evolving into violence among two generations of owners and workers, fathers and sons.

Unlike a play which is scaled to fit stage limitations, a screenplay has a vastness that resembles a novella without the burden of continuity or even details. McCarthy liberally elaborated on backdrop to set multiple stages but was sparse with dialogue (remind you of ‘The Road’ yet?); the actors need to act out his intentions without relying on verboseness.

This ‘afternoon’ read is truly enjoyable; now if only the 1977 PBS movie can be found. ( )
  varwenea | Apr 11, 2017 |
I was so excited to find this little treasure. I didnt know it existed. I read it over a rainy afternoon and i found it as enchanting, raw and real as any of this great mans work. A Southern Gothic tale. ( )
  MaryAddison | Apr 6, 2015 |
A screenplay is not my favorite format and I find the stage directions to be distracting and stop me from forgetting it's just a story I'm reading. But I still became involved in this play and cared about the characters, which is quite an accomplishment on Mr. McCarthy's part since the book is so very short. He manages to bring emotion, characterization and suspense into this short work with just a minimum of words.

It's not the best way to start off reading Cormac McCarthy's books but if you've read his others, don't miss this little gem. ( )
  hubblegal | Jan 8, 2015 |
First off, I love Cormac McCarthy, I absolutely love his writing. No Country For Old Men. The Road. Oh My God The Road! There may not be a better written apocalyptic father and son tale of traversing across the country after desolation and anarchy have set in. The Road is, without the zombies, what the Walking Dead tries to be.

The screenplay; The Gardner's Son captures the style and oppression of a Cormac McCarthy story. The tale of regular men, doing what they feel must be the right thing, only to have it spiral out of their grasp as they fall victims to a situation that is far bigger than themselves.

Cormac McCarthy wrote the screenplay for The Gardener's son in 1976 and it was broadcast on PBS that same year. It received two Emmy award nominations.

The story of two families separated by wealth and privilege in a small Southern Mill town. The McEvoys and the Greggs. Robert McEvoy, as the story begins, is having his leg amputated due to a Mill accident thought to be caused by the affluent son of the Mill owner; James Gregg. In anger and bitterness, Robert leaves town, deserting his family.

Upon the death of his mother, two years later, Robert returns. He is hardened from his time on the road. He learns that his father, a once proud gardener for the Greggs no longer works in the gardens but in the darkness of the Mill. Fueled by a simmering hate for the wrongs done to his family he confronts James Gregg and shoots him dead.

The trial and punishment that follows will consume what is left of the two families and the town itself, exposing the lies and secrets of a small Southern town.

Written as a screenplay and presented as such, it may not have the full sense of drama and flow as a novel would, but in the hands of McCarthy it is conveyed very well. Cormac McCarthy has a voice in his writing that is as unique and harmonious with the written page as anything being printed today. He may very well be the voice of that dusty little underbelly of small town America that we thought long dead. But in fact breathes very well still.

After reading this screenplay I know I will be looking for the television movie in video or streaming ( )
  agarcia85257 | Jan 1, 2015 |
Despite it being a screenplay this short little book still has the ability to deposit me in that strange deep and dark mindset that McCarthy always seems to do. His sense of silent understanding and tension still comes across quite well in this book. I'm going to netflix the film and see how the screenplay was carried out. ( )
  BenjaminHahn | Jan 25, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0880014814, Hardcover)

In the Spring of 1975 the film director Richard Pearce approached Cormac McCarthy with the idea of writing a screenplay. Though already a widely acclaimed novelist, the author of such modern classics as The Orchard Keeper and Child of God, McCarthy had never before written a screenplay. Using nothing more than a few photographs in the footnotes to a 1928 biography of a famous pre-Civil War industrialist as inspiration, the author and Pearce together roamed the mill towns of the South researching their subject. One year later McCarthy finished The Gardener's Son,a taut, riveting drama of impotence, rage, and ultimately violence spanning two generations of mill owners and workers, fathers and sons, during the rise and fall of one of America's most bizarre utopian industrial experiments. Produced as a two-hour film and broadcast on PBS in 1976, The Gardener's Son recieved two Emmy Award nominations and was shown at the Berlin and Edinburgh Film Festivals. This is the first appearance of the film script in book form.

Set in Graniteville, South Carolina, The Gardener's Son is the tale of two families: the Greggs, a wealthy family that owns and operates the local cotton mill, and the McEvoys, a family of mill workers beset by misfortune. The action opens as Robert McEvoy, a young mill worker, is having his leg amputated -- the limb mangled in an accident rumored to have been caused by James Gregg, son of the mill's founder. McEvoy, crippled and isolated, grows into a man with a "troubled heart"; consumed by bitterness and anger, he deserts both his job and his family.

Returning two years later at the news of his mother's terminal illness, Robert McEvoy arrives only to confront the grave diggers preparing her final resting place. His father, the mill's gardener, is now working on the factory line, the gardens forgotten. These proceedings stoke the slow burning rage McEvoy carries within him, a fury that ultimately consumes both the McEvoys and the Greggs.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:58 -0400)

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